This is an article that I originally wrote on April 16, 2011. A lot of things have changed since then… I am not a single mother of four…I am a VERY happily married mother of six. I am in a home and in a community where I feel like me again. Things are not perfect, but moments are. I know people who are NOW where I was THEN, and that is why I removed the “private visibility” from this post – so that those people may be encouraged. While we can not see through the walls of a whirling and swirling and blinding storm, while we sometimes feel caught up and tossed around and completely unsure of where we will land and in what condition we will be in when we finally do… the skies will clear. Eventually. It may take longer than you feel like you can bear… but imagine how bright the blue sky will seem and how warm the sun will feel on that day. A bruised and battered and exhausted body and mind and heart will be able to rest and recover.You may be seeing little pale blue glimpses now… you may have moments where you notice the silver lining trying to peep around the cloud…or you may still be getting “dumped on” daily. But think for a minute…in every crisis we have faced, in every scary or stressful situation from our youth or past times, the one thing that we can count on is that whatever is happening is not going to stay the same. It is cliché, but it is true, that the only thing that we can be certain of is change. It may get worse before it gets better…but eventually it will get better. Perfect? Never. Better? Not always. Worse? Sometimes. Exactly how it is right now? Don’t count on it. Something will be different today. And then tomorrow. And then next week. And definitely next year. It may be two steps forward and three steps back one day …and three steps forward and two steps back the next…but if you remain headed in the right direction, with your eyes open and your heart hopeful and a shield to protect you from bitterness, fear and despair …then you will arrive. It may not be where you think…or you may not have any idea because everything is still so “up in the air”…but you will land. If you land on two feet and running then AWESOME! If you land in a heap and can stand and brush yourself off and get up and go then good for you! If you land broken and bleeding and confused, don’t cover your face. Don’t cry to yourself. Cry out for help and reach out for help. Let somebody help you up and nurse you back to health. There is nothing weak about needing…about asking. It takes GREAT strength to humble yourself and let people know that you need them. Your help might come from unlikely sources…and the sources you thought you could depend on might desert you. Consider it a blessing to know. Consider it a gift to have been taken somewhere else, no matter how painful to find out what is real and true. Peace to you. Calm to you. Hope to you. Blue skies and sunshine and true friends to you.
~April 16, 2011 ~ Would you believe me if I told you that by all outward appearances my life is a mess? I’m a single mother of four… wonderful but incredibly active children. They keep me constantly toting them to and fro… to school, to sports, to music and art, to see friends. and on and on. If we aren’t in route somewhere, I can be found at home picking up their piggy messes… Are those dirty clothes or clean?? both are scattered on the floor, over the dressers, on top of the beds,in the bathroom and the closet floors. Five people, five sets of towels, five beds and sets of sheets… day time clothes and night-time clothes and uniforms.. OH! the mountains of laundry! And all of my “Mommy jobs” are the most important ones, so my money-making jobs get sporadic attention. Then there is constantly “a situation” requiring time, patience and thick-soled shoes to stamp out all of the little fires. Just picture the action news- reporter weather woman standing near the ocean on shifting, stinging sand to report the imminent approach of a level 5 hurricane. Her damp strands of hair lash her face. Sheets of rain change direction in a visible pattern like a bold paint brush cutting a zig-zag line down and around and through her… the strength of the wind and the sand and the rain stinging her skin and eyes… making her sway and wince and stumble…
What if I told you that appearances can be deceiving… too often they are deceiving. Once upon a time my house looked beautiful… bright geraniums and gerbera daisies and happy pansies in colorful pots; a nicely trimmed and manicured lawn… weeds painstakingly pulled up by my hand and bushes shaped with care; seasonal flags fluttered and wooden wind chimes chinkled. Inside, the counters were devoid of crumbs and spatters and finger prints; carpets were vacuumed; fringe on the ends of the rugs were untangled; clothes were all neatly put away in their Proper Place. Toys were sorted carefully behind cabinets or closet doors to prevent the perception of clutter. Posed portraits of happy smiling beautiful people strategically positioned…
My life looks like a mess right now. My home is not spotless… my yard is not immaculate… but I am NOT being whipped around, tossed about, or worried by the storm that rages around me. I am in the eye. But NOT in the eye of the storm. I AM in the watchful EYE of the Great I AM.
“The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
“Righteous” to me, does not mean that you are expected to be God…it does not mean that you are perfect and blameless because of who you are and what you do. It means that you are God’s child and precious to Him because of who HE is and what He does. Our part is that we must acknowledge that, and accept that, and be grateful.
“Self-righteous” on the other hand, means ” convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others: narrow-mindedly moralistic.” Think Pharisees…or modern day people who are like the Pharisees… who believe so fervently that they are right and that everyone else is wrong that they do not want to hear or see or know or learn ANYTHING that might cause them to re-evaluate their “rightness”.
I have had some people who I thought were good friends who question my choice to share myself so openly by writing this blog… they believe that I feel too strongly and have been too hurt.. that I should wait to share my thoughts when my emotions are not so raw. To them I say, I can not help if you do not want to hear or see or know anything that may cause you to re-evaluate your “rightness”. I am not writing for you. I am writing for me and for people who do want to hear and see and know and learn… that they are not alone.
I wrote a poem a few years ago. I look back and see videos and pictures of the majority of the last twenty years, and it makes me sad…because this poem is how I felt MUCH of that time: “I want to see through hazy eyes/ And speak through numbed lips/ When things are clear and sharp and felt/ Nothing is clear and too much is felt.”
I don’t want to see through hazy eyes anymore…and I have found my voice. I can see again, THANK GOD! And I DO FEEL. If my feelings are too much for other people’s sensibilities, then that is something that I can not help. “Friends” have also expressed worry that my children may be negatively affected one day reading the words that I write. My answer to them is that I do not write to condemn, I write to express hope… hope in my own future and encouragement for others. NOTHING is hopeless. In all that I do and all that I have done I express my gratitude for the path that I took that provided me with my precious babies and the true friends I met along the way, and the experiences that I gathered… both good and bad. “The Bad” was a fire that forged me into something stronger than I might have been other-wise. I am not AS naive. My mind and heart and soul can recognize and appreciate good…and I am less likely to take for granted my blessings. I offer up a word of thanks OFTEN for all lovely things and all lovely people. Before, I might have not noticed.
I see now that there have been times that I “kept back” parts of myself from God… why do we deceive ourselves into believing that God doesn’t see everything, KNOW everything already? Why do we try to hide the ugly parts away or deal with the hard parts by ourselves? I know now that God has an abundance of Grace (undeserved love) for us weak people down here on earth… He has Grace for our failures and Grace for our sins… and mercy when we come to Him. What he doesn’t respond to very well, I think, is when we raise our faces up and tell Him that we don’t need Him… that we can handle it all by ourselves. On-the-other-hand, when we come humbly to Him, He is lightning quick to snatch us up and hold us fiercely to Himself. That is how I feel right now. I feel safe and protected in God’s strong arms and I hear His soft voice gentling my fears. His radiance reveals even the darkest corners of my mind and my heart. Just as with the morning light, the fears of the black night are exposed for what they really are… small insignificant nothings. Mole hills and not mountains.
This week I was invited to a luncheon at a local church where the guest speaker was the wonderful children’s writer Sally Lloyd-Jones. I do not know her personally, but I could tell that in another world, she and I would be very good friends. She writes for the littlest people so that they can understand God. She paints pictures with her words, and simplifies what man tries to complicate. That is what I want to do too. It can all seem so complicated….people make things much more difficult then they need to be… How can we really know God? His plans for us? He’s too busy – He’s too powerful – He controls everything … and if He controls everything then why would God let earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes etc. kill and wreak destruction? why would He let innocent people suffer? Live in pain? Cope with chronic illnesses? Let parents die and leave orphans? Let children die before they have a chance live? Why would God allow people to marry only to have that union fail…Lose jobs? Lose houses? Why?Why?Why?
He doesn’t do it to us. I believe we do it to ourselves. We are not stewards of ourselves, our families, our communities, our world. We do not prevent injustice…we want others to do it. We believe we are too powerless or weak to help. We want others to do it. We want a miracle or an intercession but we do not lift our finger or our prayers. If we do not ask we will not receive. If we do not get on our knees and then stand up in expectation and then MOVE toward the desire of our heart then God is not going to just give it to us. Sadly, we likely wouldn’t even notice if He did! God is interested in all of His children’s Well -Being…but “God Well -Fare” for His people who do NOTHING? Well-bodied, sound-minded, capable and gifted people who do nothing yet want something? Hhhmmm. Accepting Generosity FOR A SEASON, while truly NEEDY is , in my opinion, nothing to feel bad about. Grace is free. Mercy is a gift. Good Works don’t get you to heaven. But when our season is over and we have recovered, we are not put here to do nothing. We are here to DO SOMETHING besides take up space and take. We may at times NEED…but we are also NEEDED.
Don’t keep yourself from God. Do not hide your fears and your failures… He knows about them, but He longs for us to come to Him and tell Him that we need His help. It is all about the relationship. All of life is about the relationship… how we treat others, how we nurture and care for others… spending time. Finding our calling. Loving. God’s response may not come quickly… some things must be worked out so that all things will come together in the right way at the right time. If we raise our hand in defiance… if we shout out that we don’t need Him… if we turn our back and ignore that He wants to hear about our REAL LIFE… if we REBEL, then God will not be in our presence. He hears us. Are we calling to Him? Shouting at Him? I think He doesn’t mind either. What He minds is our silence.
This is another poem that I wrote in the month of May a few years ago (when I wrote the one above too). Unfortunately my poems were despairing…but I was not hopeless even then. I was calling on God even as I felt like I was drowning and lost. And He heard me.
“How did you get so far away from where you thought you’d be? How did you lose yourself… why are you adrift? Do you recognize who you have become? Where you are? What happened to your pure heart? What happened to your plans and dreams? What flood washed it all away? SWIM! Swim against the current… there is safety on the shore. Keep the faith. Find the Strength to fight the deluge or drown. Lord, have Mercy.”
A famous philosopher long ago ( I think it was Descartes??) said the following (very paraphrased by me!!): We have two choices. We can choose to believe in God or not. If we choose not to believe, and there is no God then there is nothing lost… but if we choose not to believe and there IS A GOD then we have lost eternity. I choose not to blame God for man’s contamination on God’s good creation…Humans tarnish and taint everything we touch because of evil and greed and ignorance.
My heart’s desire is to help and not to hurt. I choose to give myself to God… just as I am. He will provide and protect and give me peace.
“From the world’s perspective, there are many places that you can go to find comfort. But there is only one place you will find a hand to catch your tears and a heart to listen to your every longing. True peace comes only from God. No situation is so great that God is not greater still.” Charles F. Stanley
I am still swimming toward the shore… I haven’t made it there yet, but I have faith and I have Strength. I have plans and dreams again, and I know exactly who I am and while I do not know yet exactly where I will land, I feel good about the direction I am going. The Lord is merciful indeed to all that call upon His name.
Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
We are all sinners. We all need a doctor…especially if we have taken a great fall. Call out for help. Call His name. You are not alone. You’re not.